I offer to review fictional ebooks for free. I enjoy doing this and I have had the pleasure of reading some really good books this way from authors who deserve recognition. I have published those reviews here, recommended these books to my bibliophile friends and tweet/Facebook about them. I do the above because I want to and I enjoy it. In my opinion there are many talented writers out there and the new independent publishing movement has made it possible for their work to me more accessible. I still enjoy reading my “established” writers like Jeffery Archer and Justin Cronin etc. and I often put these books on hold to read books by unknown authors to help promote them.
I love books, but I no longer purchase physical books for myself. I have not purchased a fiction physical book for over 2 years and I find it awkward now to read physical books without an online dictionary, the ability to highlight and make notes and setting preferences in terms of font and light. I may very well be compulsive and spoilt but setting these conditions to optimal allows me to concentrate completely on the book without further discomfort and distractions.
For the sheer volume of books I read a year I cannot actually accommodate physical books and I honestly do not miss them.
I don’t read fiction on my laptop. The screen is far from optimal for reading and why the hell should I when I have a top of the range Kindle Paperwhite? I bought the device because I want to know how long until the next chapter and until I finish the book and so I can look things up on x-ray. I am not writing this blog as a promotional piece for Kindle. They hardly need my help. However, I have had a couple of experiences recently that make me want to set a few hings straight, for those who haven’t considered the perspective of free reviewers.
Anyone who is publishing ebooks and promoting or asking free reviewers to read their ebook should know about formats their ebook is available in, particularly if asking people to review their ebook. If they don’t know I am led to believe the extensive community of independent writers will help. I really do not appreciate being dictated to change my pro forma to review your book. I honestly wouldn’t change my pro forma for money.
Contrary to what a very small minority of writers who have approached me believe, I can actually afford to buy my books and currently have 56 books on my Kindle waiting to be read. So, when I’m offered your book to read for a free review I am not doing so because I have nothing lined up to read. The chances are I have never heard of you or your book and realistically the competition for my reading time is quite fierce.
I do not mean to come across as pompous but the average reader has a lot of choices when standing in any given bookstore and/or browsing Amazon. Most of us with Kindles can amass several years of reading in a few hours if we really tried.
My point is it’s a huge turn off when I request a Kindle/mobi file and you have no idea what I am talking about despite my reviewer profile stating I only accept books in this format and other authors are sending me their work in this format without quibble. I really do not want to read your book when you tell me I can read it on my laptop. I am aware I can read PDF format on my laptop but I read ebooks on Kindle, for pleasure and I was not put on this earth to change my preferences to suit you, an ebook writer who doesn’t know enough about the format in which you are trying to flog books.
I am also not an editor or a proof-reader. I do not wish to do the role of either even if I was being paid. I have no experience and am not technically qualified. I am an average Kindle reader who reads for pleasure who has volunteered to give her time for free to read your book and write a review. Not necessarily a 5 star review either.
If I dislike your book I don’t write a review, if I find errors in grammar, spelling or typos I tell you, maybe not every incident particularly if there are a lot. I am willing to tell you how your book made me feel and publish this on Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads etc.
I unashamedly like the majority of the books I read and through free reviewing I have found some amazing authors whom I would never have had the opportunity to read and recommend to my bookworm friends.
When I buy books I do not expect typos and errors in them, the odd one isn’t an issue but formatting errors and persistent grammar or spelling errors are annoying and make it hard for me to enjoy your book. It does your work no justice.Likewise when you give me a file of your ebook to review, for free, it’s bad form to have errors in it. I’m not going to be so star struck you’ve asked me to read your book to ignore it. It’s just sloppy.
“A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote.” -MIGNON MCLAUGHLIN
My point is free reviewers are not desperate for books and deserve your best effort as much as your paying punters. Free reviewers are not your employees and can find other things to do if you don’t forward them copies of your book. A free ebook does not equal a 5 star review or the right to boss me around. Humility is your friend in the world of publishing.